A cost-benefit analysis of new bike lanes in New York concludes that “over the lifetime of all people in NYC, bike lane construction produces additional costs of $2.79 and gain of 0.0022 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) per person.” Let’s see what that means in actual lifespan.
That comes to 0.803 quality-adjusted days or about 20 hours of extra life.
Since life is the ultimate benefit, 2.79USD for an additional 20 hours of a high quality life like mine or yours seems a bargain, annualizing to 1268USD for a year of extra life.
My physician and cardiologist have long been on this case, saying that cycling so regularly for the last quarter-century saved my life, and that continuing to cycle continues to contribute to the quality of my life.
Of course, if you were a sourpuss econometrist, you might argue that the hours spent on the bike to receive the benefit must be subtracted, and so inflate the annual cost by perhaps as much 10 per cent (if you spent around 2 hours a day on the bike). I wearily wave off such accounting hairsplitting: who wouldn’t pay even double the simple calculated base cost, $2536, for an extra year of life?
Andre Jute is a motivational psychologist and economist who spent his early career in advertising and is now a prizewinning, best-selling novelist. He is also the author of IT’S THE ECONOMY STUPID, a Rhodes Scholar Education in One Hour.